Skin FAQs

A few skin tips can go a long way. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ's) about skin health that our patients ask the medical staff.

Skin FAQs

How often should I get a skin check?

We recommend that you have a yearly skin check with your dermatologist to detect any suspicious moles or unusual lesions. If you have skin cancer, your doctor will recommend the frequency of your ongoing skin checks. Check your own skin monthly to detect any changes early on.

What happens during a full body skin check?

A complete skin exam at our clinic is a visual inspection of your skin by a board-certified dermatologist. A full skin screening of your body is recommended.  A gown is provided for privacy. The complete skin exam takes approximately 5 minutes to complete. If no suspicious lesions are found during your exam, yearly skin exams will usually be recommended. If suspicious lesions are found, the physician will typically recommend a biopsy to rule out skin cancer. This procedure can be performed here in the office, usually at the time of your skin exam.

What skin care products should I use – either over the counter or sold in the dermatology clinic?

Choosing the best skin care products for your skin type can be confusing. We carry several lines of hypoallergenic products carefully selected by our board-certified dermatologists for purity and effectiveness. For professional advice on the best skin care products for your skin type, schedule a skin care evaluation with our skin care medical assistant. The evaluation is complimentary for our existing patients.

Is psoriasis contagious?

Psoriasis is not contagious. Click here to read more about psoriasis.

How are warts treated?

Click here to read how warts are treated.

Are chemical peels harsh?

We use only light- to medium-strength chemical peels, ranging from no down time to slight down time. We even offer a peel gentle enough for those with sensitive skin or skin conditions such as rosacea. Click here for a list of our chemical peels.

Is my skin cancer from too much sun exposure as a child?

Excessive exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun as a child can predispose a person to skin cancer, including melanoma. However, other factors such as genetics and skin type are also involved. Click here to read more about skin cancer.

What sunscreen should I use?

The type of sunscreen you should use depends on your skin type and the amount of sun exposure you get on a regular basis. We carry a wide selection of sunscreens for every skin type and usage. For professional advice on the best sunscreen for your skin type, schedule a skin care evaluation with our skin care medical assistant. The evaluation is complimentary for our existing patients.

How often should I apply sunscreen?

The doctors at PDC try to keep abreast of the health and safety implications of sunscreens. It can be a challenge to sort through the information widely available on the internet and in newspapers and discover what is validated by reputable research. Our current recommendations are to apply sunscreen generously prior to sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours.

How much sunscreen should I use?

Most people use too little sunscreen and apply too infrequently. Approximately one ounce (a shot glass full or a large adult handful) is recommended for an average sized adult to cover the entire body. This means that a typical 3-6 ounce bottle of sunscreen should last for only 3-6 applications. The great irony of many sunscreens is that sunlight can inactivate them, making them useless after a few hours in the sun. For this reason, you should apply ample amounts of sunscreen every 2 hours even if you are not sweating or swimming. Finally, even the best sunscreen is far from perfect in protection, so combine it with protective hats and other clothing. Avoid the peak UV hours between 10AM – 2PM.

What strength SPF is best?

The physicians at Portland Dermatology Clinic (PDC) recommend regular use of broad spectrum sunscreens for sun exposed skin to prevent skin cancer and excessive aging of the skin. A sunscreen should be SPF 30 – higher numbers do not protect more as long as it is applied adequately – and broad spectrum (meaning able to protect against both UVA and UVB). The SPF only refers to how well a sunscreen protects against UVB. To ensure UVA protection as well, one must read the active ingredients on the label and make sure that the sunscreen contains at least ONE of the following: avobenzone, Mexoryl, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Do not buy sunscreen if it doesn’t contain one of the previously mentioned ingredients. For those who have concerns about chemical sunscreens, stick with ones that contain only zinc or titanium.

How much vitamin D should I take?

Much has been written of late about the purported health benefits of vitamin D. The story is far from clear and is still a very active area of research. Certainly those of us living in the relatively sun-poor Northwest, and especially those of us who practice careful sun protection, are at risk for being vitamin D deficient. We recommend that you discuss having vitamin D levels drawn with your doctor.  Supplement with vitamin D3, eat foods rich in vitamin D, and be sure you consume adequate calcium. There is currently no consensus on optimal daily dosing, and there is some controversy about excess vitamin D increasing calcium levels and leading to kidney stones. The upper limit of safe daily dosing of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) has historically been 2000 IU/day but is possibly much higher.

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